Saturday, November 25, 2006

Smoking cessation in psychotic patients

People with a psychotic disorder can benefit from a smoking cessation intervention consisting of nicotine replacement therapy plus motivational interviewing and cognitive behavior therapy, according to a new study.

"Despite extremely high rates of smoking among individuals with psychotic disorders and the associated financial and health costs, few studies have investigated the efficacy of smoking cessation interventions among this group," Dr. Amanda Baker, of the University of Newcastle, Australia, and colleagues write in the current issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Details.

Cyprus: Comatose addicts dumped onto prison system

Nicosia, Cyprus: Police dump practically comatose addicts onto the prison system for lack of alternatives, according to Dr. Manolis Georgiou, pathologist at the island nation's central prison. About 35 to 40 per cent of the prison population consists of drug addicts, he said.

The doctor said the prisons were over-populated by 200 per cent and there were staff shortages. “We have to take them and rehabilitate them but I don’t think the prisons are properly equipped, nor offer the proper medical care to help these people,” he said. Source.

Osage Congress passes anti-meth law

PAWHUSKA, Okla. The Osage Nation's new Congress has unanimously passed a law that it hopes will close a possible loophole in Oklahoma's much-lauded anti-methamphetamine legislation.

The Osage Nation is the first American Indian tribe to pass its own anti-meth bill. It bans possession of more than 9 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which are cold medicine ingrediates used to make meth.

When state lawmakers passed their anti-meth law, one concern was that meth cooks might move their operations to tribal land. Osage National officials say they hope the tribal law will discourage that.Under the tribal law, violators can receive a 1-year prison sentence and a 10-year banishment from the tribe. In particularly egregious cases on tribal land, federal courts would likely take jurisdiction. Source.

Vietnam: Heroin smugglers sentenced to death

Quang Binh, Vietnam: Four Vietnamese, including two men with British passports, were sentenced to death after a five-day trial this week for smuggling 339 kg of heroin into the country from neighboring Laos. They have 15 days to appeal their convictions.

Vietnam, which has some of the toughest drug laws in the world, imposes the death penalty on anyone caught with more than 600 grams of heroin or 20kg of opium. Source. More on Vietnam here.

Alcohol, tobacco industry runs into resistance in third world

Emerging markets, the last bastion of growth for purveyors of cigarettes and alcohol, are cracking down on bad habits, says the Financial Times of London. For examples, it cites the battle in Thailand over banning alcohol ads, while Indonesia is mulling higher taxes on cigarettes. A similar battle is going on in Botswana.
This is a blow for profitability as well as vice. Cigarette manufacturers have assiduously sought to sell more in less health-conscious nations. Philip Morris last year paid $5.2bn for a cigarette manufacturer in Indonesia, a populous country where about 70 per cent of young men smoke. Similarly, brewers endeavour to cash in on countries where binge-drinking is on the rise: young Thais knock back an estimated 8.5 litres of alcohol each year. Others benefit too: tobacco is a big contributor to government revenues in Indonesia, while alcohol advertising helps fill the pockets of the media industry.
Because of the industry's influence, governments may not have the clout to regulate the trade in these most lethal of addictive substances.

Friday, November 24, 2006

London: Police chief calls for prescription heroin

London: Heroin addicts should be given pharmaceutical heroin at National Health Service clinics to reduce crime, said Howard Roberts, deputy chief of police in Nottingham and vice chairman of the drugs committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers in the UK.

Roberts said that providing addicts with heroin would cost about a third or a tenth of the cost of crimes committed by addicts each year to finance their addictions. Source.

Pilot programs to test the concept are set to begin in February in Brighton and Hove, named the drug death capital of Britain. Details.

Bay Area Rapid Transit reconsiders liquor ads

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is reportedly reconsidering its decision to allow alcoholic beverage ads on trains. The Marin Institute, an industry watchdog, mounted an opposition campaign and the Boards of Supervisors of San Francisco and Contra Costa Counties sent letters opposing the move.
"In BART's many years of existence they have never allowed alcohol advertisements on trains or on stations," said Contra Costa Board President John Gioia. "And I think there comes a time when you need to draw a line andsay that the little bit of extra revenue isn't worth the price you pay, which is the continual, in-your-face advertisement of alcohol where there is a lot of young people."
Read more. BART's interest in alcohol ads seems to be part of a downmarket move by BART management. BART also announced this week that it will be tearing out carpeting in trains and replacing it with linoleum.

War, opium trade make children addicts

More than 2,000 children in the Afghan city of Herat are addicted to opium, local doctors say. There are thousands of children made orphans and homeless by the war, and many of them end up working in the opium fields or as drug couriers. Some parents use opium paste to quiet children.
Dr Abdul Shukur Shukur, of the Shahamat Centre, a non-government institution that helps combat drug abuse, told IWPR that he had seen a 20 per cent rise in juvenile addiction over last year.

“We have children between the ages of six and 16 at our centre,” he said.

There are many reasons why children start using drugs, said Dr Shukur, including the lack of parental supervision, the large number of children orphaned by war, the return of refugees from Iran, and Afghanistan’s booming illicit narcotics industry, which means drugs are readily available.
Read details here.

Added Dec. 7: A fairly lame story on this topic, carefully skirting political issues, ran on the AP wire Dec. 6, here.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mexico: Drug gang bids for public support

Michoacan: A notorious drug gang known for beheading its enemies has taken out half-page ads in local newspapers proclaiming its good intentions and denouncing rival gangs. Among other points, the ads denounced the sale of methamphetamine and adulterated wine, allegedly promoted by competing cartels. Thousands of leaflets with the same theme were also distributed in the city center. Details.

Afghan heroin tsunami coming

Prague: A tidal wave of heroin made from Afghan opium is about to hit the world market, a European drug panel warned. The Afghan heroin is stronger than the current supply, and may lead to numerous drug overdoses, experts said. Source. See also this Reuters report, indicating that street prices of heroin have dropped almost 50 per cent due to surging Afghan production since the fall of the Taliban.

The complicity of the Afghan government in the opium business has been widely reported. The current Afghan opium crop is estimated at 6,000 metric tons. It's hard to believe that the NATO forces in Afghanistan -- notably their largest contingent, the U.S. military -- don't have a hand in this extremely lucrative trade. Troops are fighting and dying to prop up a Kabul regime consisting largely of drug racketeers, and nobody in the American officer corps is getting a cut of the action? There's a story waiting to be reported here.

Lethal new heroin mixed with pure opium

LOWELL, MA: -- The deadly heroin linked to four fatal overdoses in the city in the past month was mixed with a high percentage of pure opium, Massachusetts State Police crime lab tests revealed yesterday.

"This is really startling and very concerning," said Lowell police Capt. Robert DeMoura, adding that, as far as he knows, this lethal mix has not been seen in the city in the past. Source.

Maybe it's a pilot of the new Afghan heroin the European experts warned about, see above.

At the urinal: a teachable moment?

Liverpool, UK: Mens' rooms in local pubs feature hidden speakers above the urinals with audio of a woman's voice saying, ‘Pssst! Pssst! Did you know too much alcohol can cause man-boobs and penis shrinkage? Be alcohol-aware.’

Jane Thomas, publicist for the local health authority, said the campaign was created in response to past failed attempts to engage with drinkers: “Our research shows that traditional methods of campaigning aren't working so we decided to use a revolutionary new approach.” More.

Sweden: Drunken moose drowns

Stockholm - A moose that became inebriated after binging on fermented fallen apples in northern Sweden drowned when it fell through the ice of a frozen inlet, Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reported on Thursday.

"The moose appears to have eaten too many fermented apples and become confused out on the ice," Luleaa police spokesperson Erik Kummu told local media.

Emergency services were scrambled but they were unable to save the four-legged apple thief.

For several days prior to the moose's demise, local residents had contacted police after seeing the animal munch its way through rotting fruit, Aftonbladet said.

Drunk moose are relatively common in Sweden in late autumn as the animals eat fallen apples which ferment slightly on the ground.

Worms hooked on nicotine

Experimenters have demonstrated nicotine dependence in C. elegans, a tiny worm raised in laboratories. Dosed with worm-sized quantities of the chemical, the worms show behavioral responses to nicotine that parallel those observed in mammals, including acute response, tolerance, withdrawal, and sensitization. Because of the relative simplicity of the worm's constitution, researchers were able to isolate the genetic elements involved in the nicotine response. The research was published in the journal Cell. The discovery rated an article in the New York Times, here. The demonstration that addiction happens in non-human mammals and now even in worms challenges psychogenic theories that point to human emotional or spiritual maladjustment as causes of addiction.

Surfing team wants alcohol-free beach zone

SAN DIEGO: Students from the Point Loma High School surf team are tired of being harassed by drunks at the Ocean Beach sea wall. Their team supervisor, Julie Klein, has petitioned the city council to ban consumption of alcoholic beverages on part of the beach.

“We're trying to have a surf team, we want to stay clean, and they are bringing it into our environment,” said Brennan Clark, a 16-year-old team member. “It's just not cool.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drug addiction in Vietnam surges

The number of drug addicts in Vietnam surged 56.8 percent to 158,428 in 2005 from 101,036 in 2000, according to a recent national conference.

Vietnam, which has targeted to become a drug-free country by 2015, annually spends an estimated 320 billion Vietnamese dong (20.1 million U.S. dollars) on detoxification activities.

Source: Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Definition of "drunk"

Courtroom transcript:

Q. On the day that Twine was shot, were you intoxicated?
A. I definitely was not.
Q. Had you been drinking that day?
A. I drank a few beers.
Q. How many beers did you drink?
A. About thirty (30).
Q. And you were not drunk?
A. No.
Q. What is your definition of drunk?
A. Drunk is when you fall down and you can’t get up.

This explains a lot about drunk driving. Thanks for this item to U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer's Say What? column of humorous courtroom anecdotes in the Texas Bar Journal.

Maori twice as likely to become addicted

New Zealand National Addiction Centre director Professor Doug Sellman said today that after considering variables such as age, gender, education and household income, Maori were twice as likely to have lifetime substance use disorders than other ethnic groups. He said that the reasons were not fully understood. Source. Wikipedia on the Maori.

Alcohol a national scourge in Botswana

"The disturbing abuse of alcohol is not a party political issue but a national challenge that requires our collective leadership." So said Botswana President Festus Mogae, addressing the Botswana parliament in support of a bill to regulate alcohol sales.
"Families have endured the daily agony of poverty and abuse because they are headed by alcoholics. Wives have been abused and even killed by husbands whose only plea was that they were under the influence of alcohol. Lives have been lost through drunken driving. HIV/AIDS infections that could not have occurred had taken place because the infected people's judgment was impaired by alcohol. The list goes on," he said.
The bill is opposed by the alcoholic beverage industry, which has a number of members of the Botswana parliament on its side. More. The alcohol industry has issued a veiled threat that if the government proceeds, it will take the trade underground in defiance of the law, as during the American Prohibition period. Source.

More meth, more HIV: study

Gay men who use methamphetamine more often are more likely to become HIV-positive, says a new study done in Los Angeles and published in the Journal of Urban Health this month. Abstract.

Two thirds of prisoners addicted: NH chief

More than two-thirds of prisoners in New Hampshire suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction, says Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn. Wrenn asked Governor John Lynch's office Monday for an increase of $55 million in the state budget for fiscal 2008 and 2009, primarily to cover medical treatment in the prison system, including substance abuse and mental health treatment. Source.

Maybe it would be cheaper to provide effective treatment for alcoholics and other addicts before they got into the prison system?

MADD's new initiative to stop highway carnage

With drunk driving deaths on American highways virtually locked at 13,000 per year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has announced a four-point campaign:
“Using technology, tougher enforcement, stronger laws and grassroots mobilization, the goal of eliminating a primary public health threat that has plagued the United States is within our reach,” said Glynn Birch, national president of MADD, whose 21-month-old son was killed by a drunk driver in 1988.

The four points of MADD's campaign are:

* Intensive high-visibility law enforcement, including twice-yearly crackdowns and frequent enforcement efforts that include sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols in all 50 states;

* Full implementation of current alcohol ignition interlock technologies, including efforts to require alcohol ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers. A key part of this effort will be working with judges, prosecutors and state driver’s license officials to stop the revolving door of repeat offenders;

* Explorationof advanced vehicle technologies through the establishment of a Blue Ribbon panel of international safety experts to assess the feasibility of a range of technologies that would prevent drunk driving. These technologies must be moderately priced, absolutely reliable, set at the legal BAC limit and unobtrusive to the sober driver; and

* Mobilization of grassroots support, led by MADD and its 400+ affiliates, to make the elimination of drunk driving a reality. MADD is uniting drunk driving victims, families, community leaders, and policy makers in the fight to eliminate drunk driving.

Read the full story on MADD's web site.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Author of crack sentencing bill calls it a mistake

The author of the 1986 bill that mandated a 100-times more severe sentence for crack cocaine than for powder now calls the bill "a terrible mistake."

Eric Sterling was the lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1989 and wrote the mandatory sentencing bill that requires five years imprisonment for possession of five grams of crack cocaine.

In an op-ed piece, Sterling also says that the way the Justice Department has enforced the bill has been "a disaster."

Sterling writes that "almost all federal crack prosecutions involve people of color. Indeed, for years no whites were prosecuted for crack offenses in many federal courts, including those in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Dallas or Boston."

Fixing the 100-1 disparity is only part of the solution, Sterling writes. It's also necessary to focus prosecution on the big dealers, the people who import the drug by the tens of kilograms. Federal prosecutors have wasted millions of dollars and countless hours prosecuting small time neighborhood dealers and couriers, Sterling says.

Read the full article here.


Pre-teens hooked on heroin-Tylenol "cheese"

DALLAS: Local health authorities are seeing a rash of cases of kids as young as 11 hooked on a mix of heroin and Tylenol PM being sold in local middle schools as "cheese."

"To see 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds is something very new to us," said Michelle Hemm, of the Phoenix Academy, a private residential treatment center for children. "They're babies." Details.

Meth busts overcrowd foster homes

SALEM, OR: The law enforcement campaign to reduce the methamphetamine business in the Salem area has overcrowded local foster homes, says an article in the Statesman-Journal. So many parents have been arrested and jailed in connection with the meth trade that authorities have put out an urgent call for more foster homes for their children. Source.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

He quit drinking without AA

WILMINGTON, DE: Jerry Dorsman, 59, quit drinking without AA and wrote a book about how to do it. The Delaware News Journal features the author's story in its current online issue. Dorsman, who is now 25 years sober, attended AA but found the spirituality "too narrow and forced," and he saw inadequate attention being paid to stress reduction and nutrition, among other points. Dorsman's book, How to Quit Drinking Without AA, shares his approach. Details.

Hospitals ban smoking on entire campus

CHARLOTTE, N.C.: The Carolinas Medical Center hospital has banned smoking on the entire campus. That means not in the parking garage and not on the sidewalks.

The ban also extends to campuses of all hospitals and doctors' offices owned by Carolinas HealthCare System. Details.

ROCKFORD, IL: Most hospitals in the Rockford area declared their entire campuses smoke-free this week. An editorial in the Register-Star celebrates:

"It has taken at least 70 years, but finally the hypocrisy has been exposed. Smoking and medicine don’t mix — never have, never will.

That’s why we’re inhaling deeply at the news that most health care facilities in the Rockford area went smoke-free this week."
Read the rest of this well-written editorial.

Laser treatment for nicotine addiction?

EAST LANSING, MI: Peggy McElroy 58, quit smoking two and a half years ago with the help of the BreakFree laser treatment. The treatment, available in about 75 clinics around the United States, still is being studied. Smokers who want to take part pay around $350. It's not covered by health insurance, but some employers negotiate discounts for their workers, and some people have been allowed to pay with health-care spending accounts.

The laser is applied to pressure points on the body, including the ears, hands and head, said John Hagerty Jr., a Lansing-based laser therapist. It's similar to acupuncture and releases endorphins to help quitters beat nicotine withdrawal.Potential quitters also get counseling.

"You also have to address the nutritional needs and the behavioral side, to prepare them to deal with the stressors in their life without smoking," Hagerty said. More.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Smoking before or after sex can damage baby

Smoking cigarettes just before becoming pregnant and shortly thereafter may increase a woman's risk of having a baby with a congenital heart defect by 60 to 80 percent, according to a report presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Heart Association in McCormick Place.

And women who are exposed to second-hand smoke in the workplace or at home may also increase their risk of bearing infants with such defects, said Dr. Sadia Malik, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the study's lead author. Source. Picture from Nicotine News blog.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nominee for Darwin Award

RAPID CITY IA: A drunk driver at the wheel of a stolen truck smashed it into two parked police cars and careened into the wall of the county jail. Source.

Judge on DUI bench drove drunk himself

A Denver County court judge who hands down rulings on drunken driving cases has now been cited for drunken driving himself.Judge Johnny Barajas admits to driving while drunk and is taking full responsibility for what he calls very poor and irresponsible choices. Source.

Unclear on the concept

A Charleston WV man showed up drunk for his DUI hearing, and then tried to drive off after the judge told him not to. He was arrested and charged with a new DUI. Source.

Newsman quits smoking after Jennings death

NBC News correspondent Mike Taibbi smoked a pack a day for four decades — until lung cancer claimed ABC News anchor Peter Jennings last August 7. The day after, Taibbi stubbed out his last cigarette ... and he's been smokefree ever since.
"I was shocked and embarrassed as I read through the research to see how much I didn’t know or had declined to note about the link between cigarette smoking and the deadliest of cancers. I’m a reasonably smart guy, I thought, as I processed one grim fact after another, so how could I have not known the basic statistics — for example, that 90 percent of male lung cancer patients are or were cigarette smokers. Or that smokers are up to 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer (20 times!) than are non-smokers and die an average of 14 years sooner. Or that by the time you have the symptoms Peter had when he was diagnosed — the shortness of breath, raspy cough and sudden weight loss — it's probably too late."
Taibbi concludes his personal story with these words:
A few months ago a longtime acquaintance of mine asked me how I’d finally been able to kick the habit. I said I didn’t know, that maybe it was just my time to quit. Or, maybe, that I’d just been frightened into quitting by what had happened to the man I’d worked with (and smoked with) all those years ago: diagnosis to death in a mere four months. Then I said something I’d never said before, words I’d never spoken to anyone: “I guess what’s different is that now I want to live as long as I can. There are stories I want to cover or at least see how they turn out. More things I want to write, places I want to travel to. I want to sail some more, get better at golf, enjoy my marriage and continue being a father. Forget about getting hit by that bus: I want to live.”
Read the full story here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thiamine supplement may avert alcoholism

People with a genetic predisposition to become alcoholics may avert that fate by taking dietary supplements containing thiamine, a University of Kansas researcher believes. Ann Manzardo, research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, said research showed a link between a deficiency in thiamine — a B complex vitamin — and alcoholism. Read more.

Prison chaplain caught smoking crack

A prison chaplain has been suspended after admitting smoking crack cocaine. The Rev Robert Pearson, 54, a Church of England priest at Pentonville jail in north London, was secretly filmed visiting a crack den.

A report in yesterday's Daily Mirror said that when confronted by mobile phone footage showing him heating the highly addictive drug before inhaling it from a pipe, Mr Pearson confessed: "It's true. I can't make any excuses. It's a stupid sodding thing to do. I just want to say sorry to my family. They know nothing about this." More.

Rape victim rejects 9th step "amends"

A woman who was raped at a college frat party in 1984 rejected the offender's bid to "make amends" under the ninth step of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

Liz Seccuro (photo), 39, together with her husband and a number of sorority sisters, stood in a Charlottesville court room yesterday and avoided the eyes of her assailant, William Beebe. Outside court, Seccuro said tearfully, "I think that the idea of closure for any victim of a sexual assault is not reality. There is never closure."

Beebe sent Seccuro a letter last year confessing to the rape as part of his AA ninth step work, which requires "making amends" to persons harmed. After several email exchanges, Seccuro turned the correspondence over to prosecutors, who had Beebe extradited from his home in Nevada and brought to stand trial in Virginia. Beebe may not have known at the time he sent his letter that there is no statute of limitations for felonies in Virginia.

In court, Beebe pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated sexual battery, and will face a possible two years in prison. He was originally charged with rape and sexual penetration with an object, charges that carried the possibility of life in prison.

Seccuro spoke out about her experience and founded an organization called STARS -- Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors -- to raise money for programs helping rape victims and their families. Read Liz Seccuro's story in her own words here.

Epilogue, Jan. 25 2007: More details of the crime, Seccuro's feelings following court hearings: Rapist's quest for forgiveness revives victim's worst nightmare, here.

Fish oil soothes' alcoholics' anger

In a pilot study conducted in the United States by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — part of the National Institutes for Health — researchers found that supplements of omega-3, the essential fatty acid in fish oil, decreased the amount of anger, as measured by standard scales of hostility and irritability, in alcoholics by one-third — even if they had relapsed in their efforts to stop drinking.

The study confirms a British study where prisoners fed a diet high in fish showed a major decrease in violent behavior, compared to other prisoners. Details.

Federal judge turns against crack penalties

A federal judge who led the move to impose harsh penalties for crack cocaine under the first Bush administration has turned around and now condemns the sentencing rules as "unconscionable."

US District Judge Reggie B. Walton told the US Sentencing Commission that federal laws requiring dramatically longer sentences for crack cocaine than for cocaine powder led to the perception within minority communities that courts are unfair.

Walton said a white college student arrested with a kilogram of powder cocaine would probably get 3 to 4 years in prison, while a black high school dropout caught with the same amount of crack would face a mandatory 10-year sentence and the possibility of a life sentence. Read more.

Between 1989 and 1991, Judge Walton served as President George H. W. Bush's Associate Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President and as President Bush's Senior White House Advisor for Crime.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Columnist: Can you fool counselors, AA?

Can drinkers fool their counselors and AA? Columnist Atwater (he doesn't use a first name) in the Chicago Northwest Herald raises this topic in response to a woman who wrote in complaining that her husband lied to his counselor about his drinking and kept drinking while attending AA meetings. Going to AA did nothing for her husband; it just made him more sneaky, she said.

Atwater responds that it takes more than going through the motions to achieve sobriety. "The truth is that some people do come to counseling and 'fool' the counselor and people do go to AA meetings and continue to drink or become sneaky about their drinking. I have been told that only about one in ten people who come to AA stay in the program for more than a year."

Readers' comments are divided between one poster who credits AA attendance with giving him a new life thanks to his "friendship with God," and another who says:
Sending someone to AA to get sober is a complete waste of time and of AA. The first suggestion made in its basic text is that if you feel you can control your drinking - try it again, try it repeatedly. About 1 in 20 who come to AA get and stay sober - the same percentage of remission as existed before AA was founded. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation and disinformation floating about.... but the idea of sending someone to AA to sober them up is dangerous. Convicted Drunk drivers use AA as a basis to be permitted to drive again."
Read the whole Atwater column and comments here.

Family voices outrage over drunk car killer

BOSTON: "Why aren't drunk drivers charged with murder?" read a sign carried by family members of slain Suffolk University student Evagelos Pashos, 21, of Shrewsbury, near Boston. The family and friends expressed their grief and outrage at the court hearing for the accused driver, who collided head on with Pashos' car, fatally injuring the student. The accused, 47-year old Alison Voorhis, was charged with vehicular manslaughter. Source. The family's noisy demonstration at the court hearing -- they packed the courtroom and vented their grief and anger at the defendant -- speaks to growing frustration with the relatively lenient treatment given to people who kill people with cars while under the influence, compared to other types of homicide.

Cop promoted after driving drunk

A police officer in West Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) is being promoted, not fired, despite drinking three times the legal limit at her place of work. At an after-work party, she got drunk, drove her car and rear-ended another vehicle. She was convicted of impaired driving and received a 14-month driving suspension. Her boss insists she’s paying the consequences for her actions. Read an op-ed piece in the Langley Times about this and similar incidents in Canada.

India: Drunk driver mows down homeless, kills 7

MUMBAI India: A drunk driver mowed down a group of homeless construction workers asleep on the sidewalk, killing seven, including a pregnant woman and two children, and injuring eight others Nov. 13. Police found a bottle of liquor in the car. The slaughter was the latest in a series. In the words of the Reuters news agency: "Boisterous sons of India's growing middle class returning drunk from late night parties have been involved in a spate of accidents in recent years." Source. More details.

South Africa prison boss quits after drunk driving charge

Johannesburg: South Africa's prison boss Linda Mti resigned today after police confirmed that he was arrested for driving drunk after he crashed his car into the back of another vehicle. -- Details.

Frat life: Beer, urine, vomit

Screaming, sobbing and moaning were coming from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat house. Police found pledges crawling on their hands and knees and wearing items such as diapers and women's underwear. The house smelled of beer, urine and vomit. Three men were taken to a hospital.

Following this Oct. 26 incident at University of Central Florida, the national board of the fraternity disbanded the chapter. "Our board does not feel it's worth the effort to rehabilitate the group," a spokesman said. Source.

About time. When will the rest of the Greek world take a hard look at itself and reach the same conclusion?

NASCAR chief skids around sobriety test

NASCAR boss Brian France was driving recklessly, ran off the road, hit a parked car, and smashed into a tree, a witness told Daytona Beach police, but officers found no evidence of anything amiss. He just spilled a soda and took his eyes off the road for a moment, France claimed. Daytona Beach police chief Mike Chitwood told the press he's investigating whether officers, who spent 90 minutes with France after the incident, gave the auto racing celebrity preferential treatment. Chitwood said police did not administer a sobriety test. Gory details.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

China: Heroin addicts spreading HIV

China's embattled public health authorities are seeing more heroin addicts sharing needles and spreading HIV, according to a story in The New York Times. The highest HIV incidence is in the Muslim region of Xinjiang, near the poppy fields of Afghanistan. Details.

Ireland: Middle class cocaine epidemic

From the Irish Sunday Independent: COCAINE abuse among the young middle classes is so widespread that the Government believes it is now a "borderline crisis". A new draft government report says "it is already clear that cocaine abuse among well-heeled 18 to 35-year-olds has developed into a major national problem." Source.

UK: Alcohol deaths double

Wales, UK: -- THE number of people drinking themselves to death has doubled since the '90s, new figures revealed yesterday as experts warned an even bigger alcohol disease time-bomb was on the way.

The blame has been placed squarely on increasing binge drinking, with the traditional image of the lonely alcoholic drinking every day described by experts as "dated."

They say people who had not viewed themselves as having a problem had found prolonged drinking sessions, despite being spaced apart, have fatally damaged their bodies. Source.

Grand jury: Cop drove drunk, hit teens

Syracuse NY: – A grand jury has indicted the former Syracuse Police officer that allegedly drove drunk off duty and hit two teens in August.

26 year old Derek Backus, of Baldwinsville, allegedly drank with other officers in a police parking lot and later at a Syracuse bar, on August 2nd. Later that night, police say he was driving drunk and crossed the double yellow line on Route 57 in Clay, hitting a car with two teens inside, head on. Source.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Drunk driver claims "AA immunity"

WAUKESHA, Wis. - A woman stopped for alleged drunken driving on back-to-back days by the same police officer claimed both times her supposed involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous shielded her from arrest, according to the criminal complaints.

"You can't arrest me for DUI (drunken driving). I'm coming from AA," Sarah J. Reich, 22, of Lake Mills, told Oconomowoc Lake Police Officer Chris Wizner when he stopped her Thursday for drunken driving, one of the complaints said.

The other complaint said that, when Wizner stopped her the next day, she told him he "had no reason to stop her in the first place because she was going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting."

Preliminary breath tests at the arrest scene both times indicated Reich was driving with an alcohol concentration more than double the proof of intoxication, the complaints said. Source.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Send Haggard to boot camp: Maia

Maia Szalavitz writes in her blog:

I'm waiting for the rehab announcement-- I'm sure within 24 hours we will hear that Rev. Ted Haggard is on his way to Hazelden or Betty Ford or some other upscale rehab for his "methamphetamine addiction."

But where he should really be sent is to Love in Action's anti-gay boot camp-- a confrontational, attack-therapy program based on Lieberman fundraiser and former Republican finance chair Mel Sembler's Straight Incorporated.

Readers of this blog will recall that at Straight and its descendants, teens are forced to spend 10-12 hour days sitting on hard back chairs, looking straight ahead, listening to the person who is leading the meeting or who has been called on to speak.

When someone is speaking, anything but attention and agreement with program principles is met with pinches, slaps or if that doesn't prompt compliance, full restraint in which the person is thrown to the floor and other participants sit on one's arms, legs and midsection. The head is also held immobile-- and restraints can persist for hours and are not ended if the victim needs to urinate or defecate.

Source. Maia, Maia ... your blog shows no loving Christian charity toward this sinner, at all.

Addiction Cartoon of the Day (Thanks, Don Phillips)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nicotine in treatment: A matter of honesty, courage, and leadership

"No ATOD-related issue generates more emotion right now than the issue of smoking as a professional practice issue or proposals for changes in organizational smoking policies in addiction treatment institutions. The nexus between personal nicotine addiction and professional performance is so great that smoking for those working in prevention and treatment will likely become a tragic and ironic artifact within the history of the field. The evidence supporting this shift is overwhelming.

"Moving forward to address nicotine addiction within the larger rubric of addiction treatment is no longer a question of inadequate research; it is a question of honesty, courage and leadership.

"Every day, addictions professionals who have been addicted to nicotine are shedding that addiction and embracing a personal manifesto containing one or more of the following propositions:

I choose to:
  • Forever sever my personal relationship with nicotine; it no longer has a place in my life.
  • Help hasten the end of the addiction field’s enabling of tobacco addiction among our clients and our workers.
  • Model responsible decision-making regarding all psychoactive drugs and encourage my clients and peers to do the same.
  • Offer assistance to those seeking to recover from nicotine addiction.
I refuse to:
  • Contribute money to or accept money from a predatory industry that has consciously sacrificed the health of the public for corporate profit.
  • Model a behavior (smoking) that could take years from my own life and the lives of those who could be influenced by my example.
  • Remain silent about the tobacco industry’s targeted marketing to women, children, communities of color, and citizens of developing countries.
  • Live the hypocrisy of being addicted while working as an addictions professional."
From an important new paper by historian William L. White, Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use by Addictions Professionals: Historical Reflections and Suggested Guidelines.

Like a phoenix from the ashes - Cigarette smoking has been identified as a strong risk factor for erectile dysfunction (ED.) The authors of this study have attempted to identify whether smoking cessation reverses ED in men who previously smoked cigarettes.

They studied men with ED who entered a nicotine replacement program for smoking termination. The men studied had no risk factors for ED other than smoking. Degree of ED was categorized by the erectile function domain (EFD) score of the International Index of Erectile Function. Patients completed the IIEF on entry into the nicotine replacement program and one year later after cessation of smoking or after one year of continued smoking. There were 118 men who stopped smoking after the nicotine replacement program and 163 men who continued to smoke.

After one year off cigarettes, ED status improved in 25% of the ex-smokers and none of the men who continued to smoke. ED status worsened in 3.4% of the ex-smokers and 6.7% of those who continued to smoke. The authors conclude that smoking cessation can result in reversal of ED "in a considerable percent of smokers." Source.

New discovery: alcoholic lung

Although chronic alcohol abuse is closely associated with liver disease, researchers are now discovering a pattern of alcohol-related lung damage called 'alcoholic lung.'

Alcoholics are more susceptible to pneumonia and more than twice as likely to develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) compared to non-alcoholics. The alcoholic lung has been found to have lower levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps protect the lung from oxidative stress. Source.

They were just recycling

Henry County Sheriff Harold Franklin Cassell, known locally as "Frank," and 19 other good ole boys working as law enforcement officers in Southern Virginia's Piedmont region were indicted Nov. 2 on charges of reselling drugs and guns confiscated in drug busts. Source. The indictment charges that the officers resold multiple kilograms of cocaine, ounces of crack, a kilo of a date rape drug, and hundreds of pounds of marijuana seized in drug busts.

He didn't inhale

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- Less than 24 hours after being fired from the mega-church he founded, evangelical Pastor Ted Haggard confessed to a "lifelong" sexual problem.

In a letter read to members of his New Life Church Sunday, Haggard admitted he is "a deceiver and a liar."

Haggard admitted that he had bought methamphetamine, but said he did not use the drug and threw it away.

A former male prostitute, Mike Jones, went public with charges last week that Haggard paid him for sex about once a month for three years until this past August, and that Haggard frequently used methamphetamine during the sessions. Source.

Haggard, with his chiseled features, wide smile and five children, had been a poster boy for the evangelical movement and social conservative causes that have been embraced by the Republican Party. Here's a video from You-tube: UK prof. Richard Dawkins interviewing Haggard.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

UK: Cirrhosis at an early age

NORWICH, UK: As cases of liver disease continue to rise, a liver specialist has made a desperate plea for more funding to be ploughed into helping people with alcohol problems.

Dr Martin Phillips, gastroenterologist and liver consultant from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “People with liver disease are getting younger and there are more cases each year, but we have not got the funding to support them.

“I am seeing people as young as 27 with cirrhosis caused by excessive drinking. We can treat patients who come in but there needs to be ongoing care."

Dr Phillips said in the last 30 years deaths from cirrhosis (disease of the liver) have risen by 800pc. More.

Suburban mom shoots heroin into 12-year old

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A 25-year-old woman told a judge she injected heroin into her 12-year-old nephew and gave him and her 15-year-old niece heroin and cocaine in her mother's suburban Detroit home. Source.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Booze tax cut makes alcohol leading killer in Finland

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish authorities expressed alarm on Thursday at figures showing alcohol to be the leading killer of men in Finland and the second most common cause of death in women.

Ismo Tuominen, ministerial adviser in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, said alcohol-related deaths had been increasing since the 1960s but showed a particularly sharp rise in the last two years.

He said there was no question why: in 2004 Finland cut its taxes on alcohol and Estonia joined the EU, allowing Finns to pop across the Baltic Sea to buy liquor at much lower prices. Source.

Alcoholic mega-Jonestown in Russia

MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti) - Between 550,000 and 700,000 people die in Russia every year of alcohol poisoning and related illnesses, a Russian lawmaker said Wednesday, citing a scientific report.

Russia has seen a surge in mass alcohol poisoning cases from bootleg alcohol and alcohol-based chemicals in recent months, and large numbers of fatalities have been registered throughout the country.

The speaker of the lower house of parliament, Boris Gryzlov, said Tuesday that a total of 17,000 people were killed as a direct result of consuming bootleg liquor and alcohol substitutes in Russia from January to early September. Source.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Step 13: Invade someplace with oil

Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who helped expose the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1969, told a McGill University audience Oct. 30 that Bush's war in Iraq had led to a series of atrocities.

“In Washington, you can’t expect any rationality. I don’t know if he’s in Iraq because God told him to, because his father didn’t do it, or because it’s the next step in his 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program,” he said. Source.

Heroin, cocaine a la carte

A popular downtown Salt Lake City restaurant is closed until further notice.

That's because police arrested the restaurant owner for selling cocaine and heroin inside the B.C. Chicken restaurant located on the corner of State Street and 400 South.

Police say they found forty balloons filled with drugs at the restaurant. The suspect, Mahbod Fari, and other restaurant employees allegedly sold the drugs and put the money right into the cash register. Source.

Foley hides out a bit longer

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former U.S. Rep.Mark Foley is remaining in treatment for alcoholism beyond his initial 30-day stay, his attorney said Wednesday. Source. More on Foley.

Translation: Expect him out the day after the election.

Students dramatize tobacco deaths

Buffalo, MO.: Students in black T-shirts moved quietly through the Buffalo and Skyline school halls on Tuesday, Oct. 24. These students joined approximately 42,000 students around the state participating in Project Silenced Voices.

Project Silenced Voices challenged students to start the morning by reading a short story about how tobacco affected their character's life. The students then put on their black T-shirts and were silent the remainder of the day, in remembrance of lives lost to tobacco.

At the end of the day, students wrote a paragraph describing their experience. "I learned that not only am I privileged to speak, but I feel bad for the people who can't speak," said Skyline student Alicia Melton. "It felt like I was disabled and unable to speak. I don't think that I would ever chew tobacco or smoke in my entire life."

"I learned tobacco can ruin people's lives," said Buffalo Prairie Middle School seventh-grader Lindsay Dill. "If you don't do tobacco, your friends or family could be killed by tobacco use. It was really hard not to be able to talk. It was hard to get what you meant across to people." Source.

Prometa: Miracle cure or placebo?

The new addiction treatment Prometa -- an IV cocktail said to take away cravings for methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs -- has addiction treatment providers split, with some claiming it's a miracle cure, and others poo-pooing it as bunk. Read about it on MSNBC.
For the skeptic's viewpoint, read this item by Maia Szalavitz.

Drunk judge can stay in office

A judge who drove while drunk, experienced blackouts and consumed a half-gallon of whiskey a day can remain in office if he complies with terms of a six-month suspension, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled.

The judge's law clerks and court reporter testified before the commission that Judge Allen Krake smelled of alcohol and appeared disheveled and trembling on a daily basis.

Witnesses called Krake's alcoholism the "worst-kept secret in Grant Parish," and on one occasion, a sheriff's deputy followed the judge home instead of arresting him for driving under the influence. Source.

Dead priest was drunk

CINCINNATI: A coroner's report says a Roman Catholic priest who died in a one-car crash early Tuesday was drunk when his car ran off Interstate-75 north of Cincinnati.

The Butler County coroner says the Reverend Charles Mentrup had an estimated blood-alcohol level three times higher than the legal limit of point-zero-eight percent.

The coroner says the 47-year-old priest died of a skull fracture when his car hit an embankment and he was thrown from the vehicle. Source.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Economists to Congress: Don't Cut Liquor Taxes!

Some of America's most distinguished economists today called for what they say are long-overdue increases in federal excise taxes on alcoholic beverages to help offset the massive economic and social costs of alcohol. In a declaration to Congress organized by the Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems (CPAP, photo), the economists, who include four Nobel laureates, say legislation promoted by the alcohol industry to reduce such taxes would damage public health, increase budget deficits, and threaten the safety of Americans, especially young people.

"Through neglect, Congress has allowed effective rates of tax on a substance that does more harm than any illegal drug to fall dramatically, even as the federal budget has sunk far into the red," said Henry Aaron, senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

"Tens of millions of dollars a year already are spent marketing alcoholic beverages to underage consumers," said George A. Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and a CPAP convener. "Lower taxes and lower prices will only further entice young people to drink. Calls for an alcohol tax reduction clearly are designed to line the pockets of the alcohol industry, without regard to the consequences."

Students Against Drunk Driving

East Lansing, MI: There's a new chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving on the Michigan State University campus, but it wasn't established by any mothers.

Amy Gnotek, MSU senior, knows all too well the damage drunk drivers cause. She's lost two high school friends, an aunt and uncle in separate drunk driving accidents. That's why she's organized Spartans Against Drunk Driving: "It's just hard, and I know it's touched a lot of lives a lot of families." Source.

Amy says the 40,000 students at her school are known for partying. East Lansing Police Chief Tom Wibert agrees. The department has reached a 15-year high on the number of drunk driving arrests, and now he's helping these students work on prevention.

Go, Amy!